Ubaid Zargar
Advertising

Gillette gives men sanction to cry

Gillette India has launched its latest instalment of the brand's #ShavingStereotypes campaign. The new ad film features a real life story of a soldier who sustained a bullet injury in the line of duty. We take a look at the campaign.

Personal care brand, Gillette has unveiled another rendition of the brand's #ShavingStereotypes campaign. The ad film features a real life soldier who carries forward the brand's expedition against stereotypes around men.

Conceptualised and created by Grey Group, #ManEnough ad film follows the journey of a soldier who suffered a bullet injury in the line of duty. While recreating his moments of intensive care, the film expresses the intent of the campaign — how it is normal for a man to show emotions, and that crying is not an effeminate act.

It all started in January of 2019 with Gillette's viral ad campaign 'The best a man can be', this kicked off the brand's offense against what it perceives as toxic masculinity. Since then, the brand has produced numerous campaigns along the same lines.

In May of 2019, Gillette released its campaign #ShavingStereotypes in India, that featured the real life story of two girls who managed their father's barbershop — a business usually run by men. Alluding to the common gender stereotypes in Indian villages, the ad film commended the girls for breaking loose of such prejudices.

In the new installment of #ShavingStereotypes idea, the brand shuns what it considers to be the traditional definition of 'manhood', while pointing out that emotions aren't exclusive to women, and tears don't make one a lesser man. In a gripping story of a father and a son, the film encapsulates the conventional upbringing of boys and how they are taught the idea of 'manliness'. The ad campaign finds resemblant connotations with the original global ad film in that they both question the transmission of traditional ideas, especially around masculinity, from elders to children.

Contributing to the campaign, former cricketer Sachin Tendulkar has come out with an open letter to all the young boys and men. The letter comes on the occasion of International Men's Day, and the week he retired six years ago. Reiterating the stance of the campaign, Sachin affirms that it is okay for men to cry.

Sachin Tendulkar's open letter to young boys and men.
Sachin Tendulkar's open letter to young boys and men.

Ad Review

Priti Nair
Priti Nair

Priti Nair, director, Curry Nation suggests that Gillette's narrative woven around social issues has now become the brand's signature style of cause-vertising. She says, “For a long time now, Gillette has been about redefining the socio-cultural conceptions of what being a real man is.That has become the DNA or the brand essence of Gillette and I feel they continue finding newer interesting takes on the same.” Nair points out that the previous ad film from Gillette was lively, while the new ad film, she remarks, “is a lot more melodramatic and serious.”

She continues, “I like the non-intrusive way the brand is introduced in the film and is integrated but I still have a question on the shift in personality.”

D Ramakrishna (Ramki)
D Ramakrishna (Ramki)

Ramki, creative director, Cartwheel, says that his first reaction to the ad film was that of respect and awe. “It's difficult not to be moved by a well told story of valour, emotion, and patriotism,” he says. Critiquing the story of the film, Ramki says, “It's a great shaving story. A soldier with a grievous jaw injury braves intense pain, and is helped by the Dad he worships to start shaving again, even as both of them weep. That's enough of a story for me, or for most of Gillette's TG.” While the plot of the ad film is self explanatory, Ramki finds the use of excessive words redundant. “I'm not sure if it's even necessary to talk about it being okay for men to cry. The images are moving enough,” Ramki points out, “Sometimes just saying something aloud diminishes what the words mean.”

Recalling Gillette's ad film 'The best the man can be', Ramki reminds us, “They had a bit of a misadventure with their MeToo [driven] film, and conflicting responses to their attempts to redefine what makes a man the best he can be. I guess they'll continue trying to strike the right chord.”

Many brands have taken the route of cause-vertising, often driven by digital campaigns. While Ramki acknowledges the trend, he does not see the shift sustain in the future. “Like it or not, purpose and cause based advertising is all around us today. Is it here to stay? I don't think so. Marketing and advertising people like to follow waves. Brands that truly stand for something will persevere with their purpose. Opportunists or pretenders will not stay the course.”

Tanuja Bhat
Tanuja Bhat

Tanuja Bhat, group executive director, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, is of the opinion that Gillette's campaign against stereotypes around men is a great signature narrative to have. “I sure hope they stay on this course in the future. I think it's a great signature for Gillette to have and own,” she says. With many brands campaigning around various social causes, Bhat suggests that it is "about time people challenged stereotypes around men."

Pointing out that the ad film focusses more on the cause instead of products, she remarks, “The ad film leads with a human insight and not the product. But it comes across as a sincerely recreated true story brought to me by the brand. I don't miss the typical product story at all. In fact, the easy inclusion of the product makes it more believable, less of a hard-sell.”

Commenting on a perceivable state of advertisement in future, Bhat suggests, “...we are already part of a shift towards realism, sincerity and honesty in advertising storytelling, which is a beautiful change. When advertising feels real, it has a greater chance of touching real people. Isn't that the objective of good advertising?”

Satbir Singh
Satbir Singh

Satbir Singh, chief creative officer, Thinkstr reckons that Gillette is not the only brand assuring men that it is okay to be sensitive. He says, "While Gillette has done a fine job with this creative, they are of course not the only brand assuring men that it is okay to be sensitive.” Speaking on the surge of cause-vertising, Singh says, "According to a survey I saw some time back, over 70 per cent of millenials preferred brands that drove social change. We are seeing that across categories." And is the route efficient enough for brands to resonate with their TG? He answers, “A good story resonates with any TG. The trick is always about how to bring your brand in unobtrusively, because after all, that is what you are selling.”